Astrid

astrid the chicken
Astrid - the smartest chick in town.

I mentioned in passing in that last post that our oldest and best loved chicken, Astrid, one of the original A-Team passed away the other week.  I just had to do a photo-ode to our lovely hen:

astrid the chicken
Loved by the kids

astrid the chicken
She was not always such a beautiful hen.

astrid the chicken
A source of fascination for dogs & children alike.

astrid the chicken
She & her sisters, Agatha, Ashley & Anoushka were the A-Team.

astrid the chicken
Not always keen to stay in their pen...

astrid the chicken
they often came in the house.

astrid the chicken
Astrid helped with the gardening.

astrid the chicken
And enjoyed a dust bath.


astrid the chicken
She was the top hen in our flock

astrid the chicken
She, not Mr Tappy Shoes, ruled the roost.

astrid the chicken
The yellow chick is her daughter, Damson.

Our last picture of her.



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Extension IV

Yesterday I watched the first episode of Grand Designs that I have been able to watch this year, despite it being probably my fav TV show.  The building of our new extension really has been all consuming for the last 11 months.  The house build has occupied almost every spare moment, made up half of all mine & Neil’s conversations.  It's been exhausting

5th May 2017
With no kitchen for most of the time we ate really badly.  Which is a huge deal for me.  I'm so happy to have my Aga back in place so I can cook again.  Aggie only moved a meter or so, you can see the marks on the wall where she used to be in the picture below.

Aga
23rd August
The chickens also disliked the disruption and so stopped laying.  Astrid our oldest, most loved hen, has succumbed to pneumonia, certainly not helped by the stress.  I’ve done the absolute minimum when it comes to bee-keeping.  I’ve done more or less no gardening, so no veggie patch.  There has been a real lack of anything other than house building going on at Ash Cottage.

chickens in extension

chickens in extension

chickens in extension

I don’t think I really understood how hard the build would be.  I’m not anti-social, but having strangers in my house every day was emotionally exhausting.  Especially once we got to the point where I kind of hated all the builders.  The mess and inconvenience was tiring of course.  And the fear of financial ruin when things went wrong, exaggerated but to be expected. The learning curves were steep.  I now know a lot more about wells, tiles, sinks and self-levelling concrete screed than I ever expected to.  And this new knowledge seems unlikely to ever be used again.

That annoying phrase; “It will all be worth it in the end”, though true, is still no great consolation, no matter how much empathy the speaker emphasises.

But it is almost over, we are almost back in our house, I do almost have my life back. I know, that I am very fortunate that my suffering is very “first world suffering”, that my complaints very “first world” problems, but my problems they have been ongoing for months and I am relieved that they are nearly at an end.  And, we have ended up with pretty much what we wanted.

My friend, Charlie, said: 
“You’ve got to realise that you can never get it exactly as you want.  That you are not as in charge as you think you should be, the builders keep telling you they can’t do it how you want it” 
And she was right.  It was good advice, and it made me figure out what I wanted most and pick my fights accordingly.  

kitchen build
23rd July 2017

kitchen build
23rd July 2017

kitchen build
23rd July 2017
Fundamentally we got what we wanted; a well lit, bigger, garden facing family room downstairs.  A bedroom for Louis of equal size to his sister. New bathrooms that feel clean and modern.  A spare room for visiting friends and family.  And thrown in, Neil and I got a new bedroom.  So, now the fight back begins.  It’s down to the finishing touches now, the stuff I thought I would enjoy.  The unpacking and throwing away, the decorating that I have been planning for this long year.  Now the fun begins.
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Extension III

builders on scaffold

This week the roof goes on.  I've been trying to take regular photos to record the build:

extension building works
28 February 2017
extension building works
2 March 2017
extension building works
28 February 2017

extension building works
2 March 2017

extension building works
5 March 2017

extension building works
5 March 2017
extension building works
9 March 2017

extension building works
10 March 2017
extension building works
13 March 2017
extension building works
15 March 2017
extension building works
16 March 2017

extension building works
16 March 2017
extension building works
24 March 2017

extension building works
24 March 2017

extension building works
24 March 2017
extension building works
30 March 2017 - Awaiting the roof.





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Spring Has Finally Sprung

daffodils

Today it hit me, spring has sprung.   The bees are flying.  I need to be feeding, spring cleaning and applying varroa treatments, to give the two hives that have survived the winter, room and encouragement to start expanding their colony and producing honey.

The veg patch needs some TLC, I should be getting broadbeans into the ground and sewing seeds  indoors for planting out later in the spring.


The chickens know it's spring too and they really need to be let out.  There are restrictions on poultry in the UK, and mine are also living on a building site so they are not free-ranging at the moment.  We were planning to try and breed from our hens this year.  We've 2 strands of Maran heritage in our little flock.  We can breed the classic Black Copper Maran...


and Lavender Birchen Maran. 


However, all this is being hampered by the mess, time and energy being expended on the building works we are in the midsts of.   The extension is going up fast:

extension building works

extension groundworks

From a demolition site...

extension groundworks

foundations,...

extension groundworks

preparations for the slab being poured,...

extension groundworks

under-floor insulation,...

extension groundworks

slab being poured,...



to Louis driving the digger.


There have also been some surprises.  Well one really!  We have a well in the dinning room, more on that later.






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